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Slather on summer sun safety, please

William D. Holmes, MD, sees every single day the effect the sun has on people—people of all ages. Not just retirees who winter in Florida and those who spend their summers gardening and golfing.

“More and more, skin cancer doesn’t have an age limit. I’ve treated teens and people in their 20s who probably never considered having skin cancer. And I regularly treats people in their 30s, 40s, 50s and up,” said Dr. Holmes, a Carle dermatologist.

“Even if you haven’t been careful in the sun, you can start today—without much time and certainly not much hassle,” he said.

Dr. Holmes recommends:

  • Wear sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.
  • Make sure last season’s sunscreen hasn’t expired.
  • Reapply sunscreen at least every two hours.
  • Be certain to reapply after swimming and sweating.
  • Take extra care with your face, your ears, your neck.
  • Wear a hat with a 3-inch brim, especially if you have thinning, little or no hair. (Remember, your children may be more susceptible to burning on the scalp if they have fine hair.)
  • Consider long sleeves and pants for sun protection.
  • Choose shade or stay inside from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
  • Protect your eyes and around your eyes with sunglasses.
  • Don’t forget to protect the tops of your feet and your kids’ feet when wearing sandals and flip-flops.
  • And don’t zip outside for just a few minutes thinking you won’t be out long enough for the sun to cause any harm.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention the “sun’s ultraviolet rays can damage your skin in as little as 15 minutes.”

What else can you do to keep yourself safe?

Dr. Holmes says talk with your primary care physician (PCP) about any changes to your skin and any other skin-related concerns you might have.

“It’s so much better to find out early what’s going on. We have a host of procedures that produce amazing results for people. Like you, we’d much rather treat something small so our patients worry less and are able to get on with their life and do what they want to do,” Holmes said.

“For instance, if you’re out on the golf course or working in the yard or the field a lot, get those small skin abnormalities looked at now. Don’t tell yourself you’ll get to it ‘someday.’ It might be much more serious someday.”

Here are the ABCs of what to watch for and get checked out right away:

  • Asymmetry: Odd-shaped moles and such might be a warning sign of melanoma.
  • Border: Uneven borders around a mole or other skin growth can signal a problem.
  • Color: Evenly colored growths are usually OK. A variety of colors might not be.
  • Diameter: Get anything that is larger than a pencil eraser checked out immediately.
  • Evolving: Change isn’t always good, such as when it comes to moles, spots and bumps.

Dr. Holmes eases patients’ and potential patients’ minds, though.

“While skin cancer is certainly serious, we do have procedures that allow us to remove as much damaged skin as possible while keeping healthy tissue intact,” he said.

“Our other dermatologists and I do many treatments right in our offices, and our patients head home that day with simple instructions that lead to full recovery.”